Video Games / Platform / Xbox360

The Worst Of 2014: Broken Games, Broken Promises & Rambo

The Worst Of 2014: Broken Games, Broken Promises & Rambo

While 2014 has been a pretty solid year for video games, it’s also had it’s share of disappointments. Be it games that didn’t live up to the hype, games that didn’t work or even games that were barely finished, 2014 produced a few groans. The following is a list of games that fed into the worst parts of 2014, be it the quality of the game or a question business practice.     Ubisoft – The Whole Company Ubisoft has been improving year after year, 2014 saw all their hard work hit a wall. Assassins Creed: Unity was released in such a poor state that the season pass ended up being canned. After a number of huge patches, the game still struggles to work. Clearly rushed out for the holiday season, along with the vast amounts of Unity merchandise, the game was a steaming mess. The fact the game contains a number of microtransactions was the icing on the barely working cake. Ubisoft did themselves no favors, tarnishing the name of their biggest franchise. Things didn’t get much better with the troubled release of The Crew. Bugs, performance issues, and the game just being rather average, The Crew was another messy Ubisoft title. Watch Dogs was another game that failed to live up expectations. While it was a commercial success, the game itself left a number of people feeling rather uninspired. Repetitive mission/side mission structure, over reliance on the pretty shallow hacking gimmick, and a poor story. The whole ‘affair’ over the down grounded visuals topped off a rather disappointing product. 2014 was a year to forget for Ubisoft, with Far Cry 4 being it’s only true highlight, and even that felt a little too close to Far Cry 3 at times. With the likes of Rainbow Six and The Division set for 2015, Ubisoft would do well to learn from their mistakes in 2014. Not ripping off their customers with broken games would be a good start.     Destiny – Bungie (Released on pretty much everything, including the 3DO)   Oh how the might have fallen. At it’s core, there’s a good game within Destiny. The problem is, Bungie released barely half a game. The ‘Kinda MMO, but not really’ nature of the game leaves Destiny awkwardly floating around between various ideas and concepts, rarely getting any of them truly right. After all the hype, all the marketing, all the promises, you’d expect at least a finished product. What we got was a taster, with DLC advertised from the first day of release. Playing Destiny is a truly odd experience. You’re thrown into the games world with no reason, no explanation, and told to walk forward and shoot things. There’s literally no story to truly speak off, leaving the already repetitive missions feeling like chores that need to be done before you can play the better stuff. The problem with Destiny is the sheer lack of content, and the lack of features that have become industry standard for online games. Running around a planet doing missions that all play the same is stupidly dull. The Strike missions are nothing special, normally ending with pretty poor boss battles. The loot table makes no sense. The end game is primitive, even more so given a large part of it is locked away given the lack of public match making. The PvP, while fun, has major balance issues between it’s classes, with the Hunter dominating everything in front of it. Destiny could have been great, if it wasn’t for the game being butchered into huge chunks and sold as ‘DLC’. Destiny felt like the biggest scam in modern video games, tarnishing Bungie’s pretty spotless record. A real shame, and a fantastic example of how greedy companies cannibalizing their product can affect it’s quality profoundly. The real worry is Destiny did fantastically well in terms of sales, with a follow up already in production. If less than half a game can do so well, it’s truly bad news for the consumer.       Rambo: The Video Game (360/PC/PS3) A full price on-rails shooter than looked and played like utter garbage. There’s honestly not much you can say about the game. It’s bizarre that it even managed to get released, a on-rails full retail film license game in 2014? very odd. The gameplay (if you can call it that) is a clumsy mess, rarely satisfying to play. Gun your way through all the Rambo films by holding your finger down on the trigger, that’s the game in a nut shell. The production value is god awful with the voice acting sounding totally alien from the rest of the game. The only redeeming factor of the game is the hilarious render of Rambo’s face and hair. How this game came with a full retail price is mind blowing.         The Evil Within (PS4/Xbox One/ PC/ PS3/ 360) Hailed as the ‘savior’ of triple A survival horror, The Evil Within had the world at it’s feet before it’s release. The problem is, The Evil Within is a hot mess of ideas, concepts and clumsy attempts to scare. While the game starts well enough, building tension, placing the player in a vulnerable state, it nose dives off a cliff soon after. The tone of the game seems to switch every five minutes, but the tone is never ‘scary’ or even slightly survival horror like. The Evil Within relied far too much on gore as a means of horror, gore and head shots. The Evil Within has it’s moments, be it a few of them, but the game just chugs along, it felt far too forced and padded. The clunky controls, combined with the below average visuals (for the most part), made the game feel dated, and not the nostalgic kind of dated. The story was a utter mess, rarely making sense of even appearing all that interesting. By the end of the game, it becomes clear The Evil Within is the equivalent of a ghost train. The story acts a extremely loose reason to put the player in the various environments. Jump scares and gore, clumsy controls and a awful story. The Evil Within wasn’t utterly terrible, but it underachieved in almost every department. The poor performance of the game is also a major issue, even on the PS4/Xbox One. A true shame, thankfully survival horror was well represented by Alien: Isolation leaving The Evil Within a good budget bin option.       Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes (PS4/ Xbox One/ PC) It’s the concept that makes Ground Zeroes a problem. Charging £30 for a demo is a pretty bold move, and it’s a move that paid off. Taking advantage of the lack of games at the time of it’s release, Ground Zeroes is a short run through the new Fox Engine. While the game looks and plays wonderfully, the lack of any real content is hard to look past. Acting as a prologue to Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain, Ground Zeroes offers a extremely short campaign and a few game modes to play through. It’s not a ‘bad’ game, but it is a demo. Charging for a demo is a worrying concept. There’s arguments that it’s a concept already in full use on the PC with the likes of early access, but early access grants the full game in the end.     Halo: The Master Chief Collection (Xbox One)   The sheer amount of content on offer is staggering, it’s just a shame the product is pretty badly broken. With a broken multiplayer, and game breaking bugs in single player, it”s hard not to point out The Master Chief Collection as a low point in 2014. One of the Microsoft’s big hitters for the Xbox One, The Master Chief collection had a big responsibility on it’s shoulders. The broken state of the game must of came as huge shock to Micosoft, as well as 343 studios. The constant updates and apologies suggest there’s genuine effort going into fixing the game. It doesn’t excuse the fact people paid full price for such a broken product.   The Master Chief Collection was yet another example of a big name game being released in a awful state. It’s been a rough end of the year for the consumer, it’s hard to recall this many big budget games being released in such poor states.      ...

2014′s Best Games: Witches, Karts & Nazis

2014′s Best Games: Witches, Karts & Nazis

2014 has been a fair year for video games. It saw Nintendo hit a good vein of form, Sony contuine to progress and the Xbox One boast a great exclusive, only for it to go multiplatform. The year has seen some major games hit the market, with most of them offering something different. This year also saw the release of barely finished games, mostly from Ubisoft. The following is my picks for the best of 2014.     Wolfenstein: The New Order (PS4/Xbox One/ PC) Some shooters want to change the world, rewrite the book, a whole new experience. Wolfenstein just wanted to have fun, and it more than pulled it off. After a run of poor reboots from various game franchises, Wolfenstein came as a surprise. The story was a joyful jaunt though a alternative time line where the Nazis won World War 2 and went onto global domination. Set in the 60′s players blasted through various enrichments and enemies, all with a wonderful B-movie feel to them. From the streets of France to a Nazi Moon-base, Wolfenstein felt like a true journey. The gameplay was extremely tight, with some of the most satisfying gun play around. Nothing fancy, just straight up fun, Wolfenstein was one of the finer video games of 2014.   Telltale Games – The Walking Dead/The Wolf Among Us/ Game of Thrones/ Tales From Borderlands This pick is cheating, but Telltale just can’t seem to put a foot wrong. The Walking Dead continued to be strong, if not a little too depressing for the sake of it. The Wolf Among Us was a enjoyable walk through a fresh world based on a cult comic classic. Tales of Borderlands and Game of Thrones are still relatively new, but both are top notch pieces of work. Everything Telltale touches these days seems to turn to gold, and 2014 was their best year ever. It’s hard to recommend just one series, so I picked them all.     Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare (Xbox One/ PC/ PS4)   Who would of guessed the spin off to Plants Vs. Zombies would be one of the best multiplayer experiences of the year? This class based game had brilliant balance between each class, allowing each to player to feel like they were playing a part in the game. The ability to customize each class with various weapons and skills gave the game a sense of depth. There’s very little that’s new within the game, but everything is so finely tuned it feels as fresh as ever. Garden Warfare is arguably the best multiplayer experience on PS4/Xbox One, there’s little that rivals it in terms of all out fun. The map design and game modes do a brilliant job of complimenting each class and play style. It’s rare a game can remain fun while being on the losing side, but Garden Warfare is exactly that. The dark horse of 2014, and easily one of the best games released this year.   Alien: Isolation (PS4/Xbox One/PC)   The best game to feature a Xenomorph since Alien Vs. Predator 2. The sheer intensity felt in each second of Isolation is enough to put anyone on the edge of their seat. A genuine survival horror that doesn’t resort to giving the player all the power, this game as a utter success. The story may slightly weak, but the gameplay and presentation make it unmissable. As a huge fan of the Alien franchise, Isolation felt like the closest representation to the source material, by the fans for the fans. Each nook and cranny felt like it had been covered with a eye for detail, a labor of love. The ships design, the sound effects, the distinct ’80′s sci-fi’ look and feel, it was all recreated perfectly. The little touches made the game that much better. The ability to use the Kinect/PS4 camera to peek around corners, the PS4 pad pinging out that iconic motion tracker sound, it was all superb. The hide and seek gameplay won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but the sheer attention to detail showcased in Isolation makes it hard not to like. The Best Alien game made, fans MUST experience Isolation.   Shovel Knight (Wii U/3DS/PC)   The trend of trying to recreate old platformers continued in 2014, Shovel Knight stood head and shoulders above the rest. The gameplay is perfect, responsive, tight, just perfect. The whole game shines with confidence, each stage is as thrilling as the last. There’s various tricks shovel Knight has under its sleeve, all of which enhance not just the game, but the genre. Not many games truly raise the bar, Shovel Knight did exactly that. Gameplay aside, the music is a key reason to why Shovel Knight succeeds. A beautiful homage to games of yesteryear, each stage plays hosts to kick ass track. It completes the whole experience, almost tricking the player into thinking they’re playing a classic on the Virtual Console. It may of took nearly a year to hit the Wii U/3DS in Europe, but it was worth the wait. A modern classic in every sense of the word.   Dragon Age: Inquisition (PS4/Xbox One/PC)   After the train wreck that was Dragon Age 2, Inquisition came as a pleasant surprise. While the game starts off at a snails pace, the bulk of the game is hugely enjoyable, even if it’s missing the finer parts of Origins. The gameplay is fair mix of Origins and Dragon Age 2, with a more accommodating use of console controllers.The MMORPG like design of the core game can become a rather annoying, but the main story quests make up for it. The overall experiences feels well rounded and much closer to the ethos of Dragon Age, putting Bioware back on track.   Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)   Nintendo finished off 2014 strongly, and It all seemed to truly get going after the release of Mario Kart 8. While the Battlemode is pretty poor, the rest of the game is sheer bliss. Mario Kart 8 showed that the Wii U could render beautiful visuals, while entertaining the player to no end. There’s nothing that matches the sheer enjoyment of battling for first position across classic Mario Kart tracks. The online mode is spot on, with very little lag to speak of. Kicking back and blasting off turtle shells, drifting passed your rivals, being wiped out by a jumping fish, it’s always a beautiful experience. Pure, innocent, video game enjoyment. Mario Kart 8 stands out in a year that offered very few racers.     Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PS4/Xbox One/PC) The surprise hit of 2014, Shadow of Mordor was brilliant. It’s honestly refreshing to see a more mature take on Middle Earth, free from the restraints of the films. Shadow of Mordor took what other games had provided in the genre and perfected them, while adding the nifty Nemesis system. The concept of enemies increasing in power and political status via player/in-game actions, gave Shadow of Mordor a huge sense of depth. The Nemesis system works so well the player can use it to forge their own unique experience. The plot wasn’t much to talk about, the Nemesis system was the key to the games success. Players could share stories of how the system impact their experience, with each player normally having a different experience. The core gameplay as silky smooth, the combat near perfect. Shadow of Mordor was nothing short of fantastic.     Super Smash Bros (Wii U) Smash Bros is simply fun, in every sense of the word. The ultimate fan service, it’s hard not to instantly fall in love with the sheer chaos on screen. Nintendo know how to create fun video games, and Smash Bros is a perfect example of this. Easy to pick up, hard to master, there’s a hidden depth behind the game that keeps players coming back for more. There’s really not a whole lot to say about Smash Bros without repeating the word ‘fun’ about twenty times. There’s cases when you sit down to play a game and you can feel a smirk just engrave on your face, sheer joy, Smash Bros does that every time it boots up. The recent Amiibos give the game a more personal touch, as well as giving the game a unique ever growing scale of challenge.     Bayonetta 2 (Wii U) Oddly, Bayonetta 2 became the target of misplaced claims of sexism, denting some of the games hype. Agenda pushing and ignorance aside, Bayonetta 2 was the game the market needed, as a exclusive on a system no one expected at one point in time. Bayonetta 2 is possibly the best example of video games being sheer madness and fun. It’s hard not to crack a smile when summoning giant creatures to finish off even bigger bosses. There’s little to complain about throughout the experience, bar the slight reduction in challenge on normal mode. The wonderful gameplay that made Bayonetta a star in the first place returns in Bayonetta 2. It’s hard to find another game that matches such a fast pace with such tight controls that give the player a real sense of satisfaction. The set pieces are truly outstanding, often leaving the player in a sense of awe and wonder. In a world of super serious games, Bayonetta 2 was the perfect solution. One of the best games of 2014, even with unjustified accusations thrown at it.    ...

The Double Edged Sword Of The Fighter Genre

The Double Edged Sword Of The Fighter Genre

With the recent reveal of Street Fighter V, I decided to look back on my experiences with the fighter genre. It’s a harsh genre, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The fighting game genre has always been a harsh mistress to me. For every happy memory I have of the genre there’s about 3 bad memories that shortly follow. From a young age I became interested in the fighter genre. My first experience with the genre was (unsurprisingly) Capcoms Street Fighter 2 on the Super Nintendo. From the first minute of the game I was hooked. The characters looked visually interesting, the environments dazzling and the action thrilling. Playing solo was fun but lets face it, fighters are meant to be played against people and not AI. Playing Street Fighter 2 against friends (and some times family) is still one of my most treasured video game memories. Booting up the game and selecting our favourite characters before arguing over which level to fight in was tradition. Button mashing in a desperate panic was also tradition. In the process of pressing all the buttons in any given order a special move would normally be unleashed, leaving me and buddy in a stunned silence. ”HOW DID YOU DO THAT?!” was often the question on our lips, and the answer to that question was ALWAYS ”no idea’. Even with a limited knowledge of the game and its controls each match was always a great slice of fun. These sweet natured days were numbered however as I began to grow up.     As time went on and I played more and more fighters, my longing for victory became stronger. Button mashing was no longer a style I felt happy to use, it had become ‘messy’. Instead I would try a few characters out and learn the move sets. By time I came into possession of Dreamcast I had a decent amount of knowledge of Soulcalibur. I wasn’t a master by any means but I had learned at least a few moves for each character. Suddenly playing against friends had become more of a practice session than just a few games in the name of fun. Losing felt a lot worse, victory felt less meaningful, it was a strange feeling. For the most part I would be able to take down most of my friends, this resulted in the game becoming a little boring to play for them. Understanding the game had ultimately led to the ‘fun’ of the game being drained away.   The likes of Capcom Vs SNK, Street Fighter 3 alpha and Marvel Vs Capcom had returned all the fun of fighters. I applied a much more laid back approach to these fighters in order to keep the game fun for my friends to play against me. By this time in our lives we preferred to learn the game rather than button mash, this led to competitive, but fun, matches. It seemed the perfect middle ground and a great time to enjoy some top class fighting games. The enjoyment of the genre (and fighting friends) hit its peek with Marvel Vs Capcom 2. Given the popularity of the PS2 all of my friends owned the system and Marvel Vs Capcom 2. This allowed everyone to stand a fair chance of learning the game and forming an effective team. Many a battle was fought, plenty a laugh was had, this was the highlight of my time with the fighter genre. There was always a giddy feeling when it came to each team being down to their last member. A single hit would decide the match, the aftermath involved boasting and looking back at the action.    I had went from casual matches with friends that were all about the fun to competitive games of knowledge and technique. One day (well when I got my own computer) I just stopped playing fighters. From 2004 to 2008 I honestly cant remember playing a fighter for more than a few days. I kept a eye on the genre, watched it develop, but I never got back into the swing of things. 2009 saw the return of the franchise that started it all for me, I am of course referring to street Fighter. The fourth entry into the franchise was a first day purchase for me. After a first few runs on arcade I decided to hit up the online options. This is where things got rough. A large segment of players from overseas had been playing Street Fighter 4 for roughly a week. This week earlier release date had created a huge divide it terms of player skill. Time after time I was matched up with players who had already learned the mechanics and moves of a number of characters. My arse was getting well and truly kicked. I was now feeling the way my friends did when they used to play Soulcalibur against me, it wasn’t fun. I tried to learn the game, learn some strategies but alas my efforts were met with more defeats. Only a few of my friends had bought Street Fighter 4, this limited my chances of just casual fun matches. When they did happen, more often than not, I’d end up winning purely because I had learned some easy moves of a certain character. My friends soon began to grow tired of playing me and I was once again forced into playing online. While I did improve my overall play the huge gulf in skill and experience was too much to overcome. I enjoyed Street Fighter 4 a lot, I kept it in my collection in order to play when friends came over or my father fancied a game. Online I was nothing short of a easy win for any given player. For a large length of time I kept my activity within the fighter genre strictly offline. Marvel Vs Capcom 3 and Mortal Kombat (reboot…or 9 as some wish to label it) became my fighters of choice. While Marvel Vs Cacpom 3 was a little light in terms of content Mortal Kombat was jam packed. With plenty to do in terms of single player I was more than happy to play Mortal Kombat offline. The lure of playing online is hard to resist however, and yet again I found myself being beat down by veterans. All the enjoyment I had experienced with Mortal Kombat offline was now being replaced with defeat and defeat. The sheer amount of spam I became the victim of was heart breaking. Seeing Stryker spam his ranged attacks over and over killed my motivation to play Mortal Kombat online, it was nothing short of brutal. I was awful at the game, but my lack of enjoyment online killed any motivation to improve.     Fast forward to EVO 2012. I’m sitting at my desk browsing Twitch TV, and I’m once again interested in fighters. After watching the majority of the Marvel Vs Capcom 3 tournament my interest in the game re-surged. I knew for a fact I was going to lose, and lose hard, but either way I was going to try my hand at the online portion of the game. My assumptions were proved to be correct, I did in fact get my arse kicked, but I didn’t mind. I oddly didn’t mind losing, my competitive nature had taken a back seat. With my rediscovered relax nature towards the game I began to sit and learn….how to lose. While defeat is never fun it did allow me to experiment and tinker with my team selection. Before I knew it I was presenting a viable challenge to some players, some times even winning. The thrill of the fighter genre rushed back, everything I remembered had returned. In a moment of nostalgia I dragged my father into a game and began to play. It was like being young again playing Street Fighter 2 for the first time.   My love affair with the genre had been long and eventful. It had highs and lows, at times I had fallen out with the genre only to make up with it some time later. Learning to handle defeat is key to enjoying the fighter game genre, expecting victory is a recipe for frustration. Remembering why I loved the genre in the first place was key to recapturing the thrill, enjoyment and fun that I had all but lost.  ...

Destiny – A Few Minor Changes, For The Greater Good

Destiny – A Few Minor Changes, For The Greater Good

With sometime passing after Destiny’s launch, after many hours put into the game across various planets, strikes and loot caves, it seems like it’s a good time to reflect. Destiny may have a number of issues, chief of which being a lack of matchmaking and varied content, it’s time to focus on the smaller issues. These issues aren’t exactly major, but would improve the game enough to be worthy of mentioning. Destiny plays, sounds, and looks fantastic, but these are few changes I’d like to see just give the game that little extra quality.   And no, matchmaking will not be mentioned, it’s already been discussed here.     More varied Weapon Skins/Sounds -   While Exotics all look unique, and rightly so, the lesser quality items all look far too similar. It’s a truly minor gripe but it has a profound effect on the game visually. Getting your grubby hands on a Legendary just to see how similar it looks to a rare weapon is a little soul destroying, even more so when it’s a weapon earned via reputation and marks. The lack of variety in weapon sounds is also a nagging complaint. It would be nice to hear how heavy certain guns sound, listen to them bellow out proudly. These issues could easily be fixed as time goes on and more content/items are added, here’s to hoping that proves to be the case.   Clans -   Clans/guilds have long been a staple of multiplayer games, and Destiny includes them..kinda. Players can join clans by visiting Bungie’s site and signing up to clans via their pages. There is little to no clan business in the actual game bar the name appearing on the players banner. It’s a little confusing that a game with a focus on joining other players to tackles tasks has basically no clan options. Simply adding a list of clan members in the in-game menu would at least allow players to see whose online and what they are up to. The addition of in-game clan list would also help form fire teams, feeding into the social experience Destiny flirts with. A simple issue to fix, but it does beg the question why didn’t it ship with more in depth clan features.   Communication -   At the present moment, players are restricted to either dancing, pointing, saluting or sitting as a means to communicate in game. With no voice chat, or quick text, there’s no way to talk to other players within the game. Players often bump into each other in wild, they exchanges glances, awkwardly selecting a emote, and then they move on. A local proximity voice chat would be a welcome addition to the game. ‘Hey are you doing this mission/bounty? Want to party up?’ the game suddenly becomes a much more social experience instead of a lonely existence that happens to feature some voiceless faces. Not all players will want to voice chat, making the voice chat a opt in/out option would be a safe bet to keep everyone happy.   No More Defending Ghosts -   Destiny plays extremely well, it’s gameplay is on point. The problem is, the mission structure does very little to make the most of the silky smooth gameplay. From the first hour till the 200th hour, players are sent to go to a object and deploy their Ghost, every time. It would be nice to have some variation put into the missions, be it story or patrol. While shooting waves upon waves of enemies is fun to start off with, after all new guns freshen it up, it becomes a little dragged out after a while. This is another issues that will probably be fixed with the expansions. It’s hard to see Bungie coming out with two new batches of content all featuring the same mission structure, or at least one would hope so.   Let Me Know More About Me -   The character page is a little lacking. While it looks nice and neat, the lack displayed stats and faction reputation is a little bit irritating. Destiny features a strong focus on grinding in it’s end game, be it reputation or marks. It boggles the mind why a player’s current reputation with a faction is not displayed in the menus. The act of flying back to the tower just to see your reputation becomes extremely drawn out. Instead of players finding out their reputation at vendors, put it on their character sheets, add it as a experience bar. It’s a quality of life addition that makes it a lot more easier to plot faction progression.   Customization -   Amour, sparrows, space ships, weapons, the players closest friends in Destiny. While this is mostly a wish rather than a realistic change, more customization options would be brilliant. From my experience, a lot of players are starting to look the same. There’s only so many times you can see the same helmet and armor combinations before thinking it’s a uniform. The ability to customize amour (beyond shaders) would be a nifty little touch. Adding marks to armor, showcasing that players experiences and achievements, seems like a no brainier. Changing up the visual looks of ship and sparrows would also be a welcomed addition. Beat Vault of Glass? Why not show off the fact by adding a design or trophy onto the ship/sparrow?      ...

Phil Fish Wants You To Hate him

Phil Fish Wants You To Hate him

Fez was decent, least I thought it was, at it’s heart it was a fun title that made me feel kinda happy. Fez was colorful, slick, enjoyable and consistent. I enjoyed the game and looked back at it as pleasant experience. After all was said and done, I decided to look into the games development and see how it was crated, this resulted in me finding one Phil Fish. A talent young man, there is no doubt, but a egoistical fella. There’s nothing wrong with ego, look throughout creative media, sports and various other purists, a lot of the best people have a ego. The problem with Phil Fish is…he seems to think the world owes him something, he seems to think I owe him something and that you owe him something. Phil Fish isn’t a person, but a person consumed by a character.   I came to this conclusion after watching ‘Indie Game: The Movie’, a lovely little number that shed light on the hardships, struggles and high points of creating a vision. While everyone featured in the film seemed genuine, real, Mr.Fish always seemed like he was ‘playing’ for the camera. As time went on, and his twitter account became more and more active, it seemed like Mr.Fish had turned heel, full heel. Why do I use a term generally used in relation to professional wrestling? It’s simple, Phil Fish is acting like a WWE wrestler, a poor man’s CM Punk. The way in which he interacts with people over social media, his trash talk of his peers, the way in which he reacts to criticism, it all screams ‘playing a character’. I’ve always wondered why he acts like this, my only real conclusion is bad press is better than no press. In running his mouth, slagging off his peers, going overboard on current events, he earns himself a lot of heat which in turn gives him a lot of press. Phil Fish could announce any game he likes at this point and the internet would be all over it, social media (within video game circles) would be buzzing. Even when he’s not working on projects he stays in the news, he’s playing the system. Ethically, his recent exploits are a little dark. Requesting civil war and insulting his fan base seem like awful moves, but given he’s turned Heel, it’s a easy way to get gain heat. Phil Fish wants you to hate him, he thrives on it, he works lives on it. While you could argue it’s a clever means to stay relevant, the whole concept cheapens the joys that Fez brought. The whimsical charms of Fez feel slightly corrupted when you take into account the attitude of it’s creator. The real shame is Fish is super talented, and truly talented people don’t come along too often. His obsession with trying to play the bad guy is his main obstacle. There’s a hope that maybe one day he’ll change his focus, he’ll stop playing the villain, but that doesn’t seem likely. Phil Fish wants you to hate him, and he loves you for doing so....

Why You Shouldn’t Expect A Console Version Of Elder Scrolls Online…Or Want One

Why You Shouldn’t Expect A Console Version Of Elder Scrolls Online…Or Want One

The Elder Scrolls Online has been one of the oddest MMO’s to release in quite some time. From announcement to release, the development window was rather short, even more so given the apparent scope of the game. Given the promise of both a PC and PS4/Xbox One release, the short development cycle comes off as rather suspect. After a PC release, and a console delay, Elder Scrolls Online turned out to be a bit off a mess, a MMO failing on core mechanics. Elder Scrolls Online is limping along, failing to live up to the hype, or even stand side by side competition, is a console version even a viable option any more? While the Elder Scrolls Online has all the distinct Elder Scroll elements, the imagery, the lore, music, it’s MMO components often fall flat on it’s face. Group questing is a utter mess, a mess that leads to frustration more than fulfilment. The questing experience on the whole is simply nothing to write home about it. Keeping in the grounds of kill quests and fetch quests, with only some sub-standard voice acting in between, the bulk of the quests feel forced. It’s not that the quests are all that bad, it’s just they’re done better in other games, especially when they involve group interaction.   Elder Scrolls Online suffers, at least in its PvE, from truly finding it’s feet in a MMO environment. The core game feels like it’s built as a single player experience shuffling around trying to fit into the MMO genre. While the PvP is genuinely quite good , the PvE is just a inconsistent, often barren, experience. This is a issue that feels a little beyond a simple patch or two, it’s a issue at the heart of the game. Given the issues, the decreasing subs, a console version feels more like a hope rather than a expectations, and even so, is it worth hoping for? It’s hard to see a console version lighting the world on fire. The bland, eerily lifeless, nature of the game would still be there. Perhaps the console market, which doesn’t hold too much experience with MMOs, would be able to see past the quality life issues Elder Scrolls Online suffers from. The main stumbling block that console version would run into would be the subscription fee.   While people may be used to paying for their Xbox Live and PSN Plus, most struggle with the concept of paying full retail and then paying a sub on top of that. The subscription fee is just as much as issue for the PC version, people expect content, expanding content, that justifies monthly fees. Elder Scrolls Online is simply not providing the content to justify the asking price for the masses. It’s hard to envision what a console version would look, and play, like. Elder Scrolls Online isn’t visually impressive, there’s a shade of doubt that the visuals would be acceptable on the two newest consoles. A console version simply does not seem like a valid concept, and the silence around the console version suggests ZeniMax and Bethesda are all too well of that. The core game has far too many issues in its current state to truly sustain a working monthly subscription model. The expectation is Elder Scrolls Online will hit free-to-play within a year, a plan that has been adopted successfully by a number of companies when their MMO’s have ran into the subscriber/user issues. The most notable of these free-to-play adopters being EA/Bioware’s Star Wars: The Old Republic. After a initial period of success, The Old Republics subscribers plummeted, in reaction to this a free-to-play model was adopted, breathing life into the game and propping up the game for a sustainable future. The free-to-play mode, that also offers a premium monthly subscription option, is a perfectly serviceable option for most MMO’s that don’t command the huge or consistent user bases. Elder Scrolls Online has a issue with any potential plans to adopt a free-to-play model. If a console version is still in development, adapting a free-to-play model for the PC version will almost certainly render a console version with a retail price, plus subs, as utterly unserviceable. How could they possibly convince console users to buy, and pay monthly, for a game that is available as free-to-play on the PC. The future of Elder Scrolls Online is certainly unclear. A console version simply does not seem like a legitimate option any more and should no longer be expected. With nothing but words, no screenshots or gameplay, from Bethesda it’s a safe bet a console version of Elder Scrolls Online is dead in the water.    ...

Another Dead Island Game Announced – Is It One Too Many?

Another Dead Island Game Announced – Is It One Too Many?

Deep Silver’s faith in the Dead Island franchise continues to grow. Escape: Dead Island is a third-person ‘survival mystery’ that explores the origins of the zombie virus. Scheduled for release this autumn, Escape will land on PS3 and 360 for the retail price of £39.99. The PC version version will cost £34.99. ”ESCAPE Dead Island is a survival mystery that follows the story of Cliff Calo, who sets sail to document the unexplained events rumoured to have happened on Banoi. Arriving on the island of Narapela, part of the Banoi archipelago, he finds that not everything is as it seems. Haunted by Déjà vu, Cliff will have to make sense of it all throughout the entire game – again and again. This story-driven adventure lets players delve into the Dead Island universe and unravel the origins of the zombie outbreak. Escape is only the beginning… Delivering the key features of a Dead Island game – visceral melee combat set in a beautiful paradise setting – ESCAPE adds a completely new tone to the zombie universe. The visually unique styles accompanies the player on his struggle against insanity as he experiences the secrets of the Dead Island universe, fights off zombies with a vast and unique array of weapons and opens the path to the events that will happen in Dead Island 2. ”   While Escape does look interesting, there’s a slight sense of ‘not another Dead Island game’. Escape will be the 5th entry into a franchise that has never truly thrilled the masses. The first entry sold, and reviewed, fairly well, Riptide did not meet expectations in both regards. The Dead Island MOBA, Epidemic, is still a curious beast that doesn’t seem to be garnering that much attention. Dead Island 2 was some what of a surprise announcement. Given the short gaps between the first two games releases, it was expected that the franchise would be rested in terms of main entries. While the reaction to the Dead Island 2 trailer was positive, there’s still groans over yet another zombie game. The over saturation of Zombies in the media, especially video games, has left a lot of people jaded. With Dead Island, H1Z1 and Dying Light, the zombie sub genre is set to grow and grow. The over reliance on one franchise is a risky move for any company, only a few can afford to do such strategy (Konami). Deep Silver are putting a lot of faith in a franchise that, at best, is inconsistent. Fingers crossed quantity does prevail over quality....

Wolfenstein: The New Order Review (PS4/ Xbox One/ PC)

Wolfenstein: The New Order Review (PS4/ Xbox One/ PC)

There aren’t many first-person shooters that can raise a smile via gunning down waves of enemies, only to stop you in your tracks and make you question some pretty heavy topics. Dual wielding machine guns while unleashing hell one bullet at a time in one moment, mulling over racism and oppression the next. Wolfenstein: The New Order is far from what was expected. Franchise protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz is back, complete with a voice and high-definition chin, and once again he’s battling the Third Reich. The New Order opens with a brief mission set during, what should be, the end of World War 2, as B.J. and his team assault a Nazi compound. Right from the start, the tones and themes of New Order are laid out: robotic Nazi Dogs; Frankenstein-like super-soldiers; and giant mechanical units dominating the field. The opening mission acts as a tutorial as well as an introduction to the game’s antagonist, General Deathead, climaxing in a choice that impacts the rest of the game. The story then picks up some years later, in a world where the Nazis have gone on to global domination. The alternative timeline is the perfect place for traditional Wolfenstein enemy designs to make an appearance. There’s a number of times in which the enemy design is genuinely impressive due to their sheer twisted creativity. Their over-the-top nature feeds into the desired tone of the game. At least for the most part. The New Order doesn’t seem to want to take itself too seriously, but at times its nature comes into conflict with the more somber moments of the game. For example, a number of times a cutscene will focus on the horrors of war, while there’s also a short scene in which the topic of racism is touched upon. While these sections are well done and give the game a sense of soul , they come off a little out of place given how over-the-top the game is.     The action is relentless and outlandish, removing any sense of realism in favor for sheer balls-to-the-wall fun. There’s a sense of unbridled power when B.J. dual-wields assault rifles and creates a tidal wave of bullets and Nazi corpses. The core enjoyment of New Order is down to how well Machine Games has nailed the gameplay. There’s a strong sense of understanding and appreciation for classic first-person shooters. Running and gunning has never felt so good, each movement furled with a tight control scheme that lends well to the fast-paced action at hand. Wolfenstein: The New Order freshens up the gameplay by including a perk system that feeds into how the player plays the game. Perks will unlock once the player has met the criteria. For example, the stealth tree requires stealth kills and keeping a low profile to progress. The other trees mostly cover making things die at the hands of various weapons. It’s a simple system that gives the player short-term goals to improve their efficiency in the way they play, and it’s welcome and well rounded addition to the franchise.   Shockingly, there’s quite a lot of freedom when it comes to how a player can approach most situations. Each level often plays host to a number of paths for the player to take. Want to go in all guns blazing? There’s a path for that. Want to take it slow, steady, and adopt a stealthy approach? Heck, there’s often two paths for that. The choices aren’t simply there for show–the stealth is genuinely well done for a game that’s mostly about shooting literally everything in front of the player. In terms of production value, The New Order ranges from fantastic to questionable. Cutscenes are beautiful, with some characters coming to life thanks to fantastic detail and smooth animation. The visuals during gameplay tend to dip in and out of being decent to rough, however. Some textures can look slightly last-gen, especially on the weapons. It’s not that the game looks bad, it’s just that it struggles to truly make the impression that the game fully belongs on the new hardware from Sony and Microsoft. The game’s audio is adequate but has little to get excited or complain about.     The New Order does a lot well, but there are a number of issues littered around throughout that stop it from truly excelling. The 18 certificate given to the game seems like the result of some awkwardly forced-in scenes. Sex scenes and some random gore moments feel out of place and forced, even more so when they are sandwiched in between some heavy ethical topics. Also, the weapons on offer feel a little tame, which is disappointing given how creative the game is elsewhere. The main issues are mostly buried in the technical side of things. Enemy AI can go a bit off the wall and unresponsive to the actions around them. Enemies can find themselves trapped on scenery, as well the player. Boss battles are also thrown into The New Order, none of which feel engaging or even challenging, allowing some sections to feel a little underwhelming. Wolfenstein: The New Order is a solid experience. The action is solid, the experience is enjoyable, and by the end of the decent-length campaign, the player feels truly well traveled thanks to a fantastic range of environments. It’s a shame, then, that The New Order struggles to keep a balance between being over-the-top and serious. Fun, conflicted, sometimes even sad, The New Order is enjoyable but not essential, but is nevertheless a return to form for a somewhat forgotten franchise.      ...

Bound By Flame First Impressions

Bound By Flame First Impressions

Bound By Flame was never a game on my radar. It didn’t appeal to me and with the multitude of other games coming out this month; I can’t say I was chomping at the bits for this game to hit store shelves. This coupled with the iffy reviews it was getting made me a bit wary about putting out the cash for Spiders’ newest product. To put it simply though, Bound By Flame has left me pleasantly surprised in its opening hours. Going into this game I wasn’t expecting a AAA, big budget game. The title only costs 50 USD (40 for PS3, 360 and PC), so I wasn’t looking for a massive game. The first thing that greeted me after electing a new game was the character creation screen. A very simple formula, Bound By Flame gives the user the option of gender and about 6 face and hair options. I chose to go the female route as the face models seemed better. The game took me into a few cut scenes to set up the story and before I knew it, I was in combat. This where Bound By Flame has me hooked. You are given the choice of three fighting styles: heavy attacks (swards axes), quick attacks (daggers), or fire powers (spells). You can switch on the fly with a menu that slows the world around you down and depending on the enemy or situation; you can select the combat style that suits you. The combat system features your basic hack and slash moves, but incorporates an awesome parry and dodge system that gives this game a beautiful rhythm to it. Learning enemies’ patterns and working in your own attacks is what gives this game its charm and fun factor. I prefer the quick combat of the daggers as it allows you more movement in battle and I love the dodging feature. Another thing I like from the game is the art style. It may not be one hundred percent original, but it just works for this sort of game. Sometimes when I’m playing a game like this the art style won’t fit and it will pull me out of the experience. In Bound By Flame I believe the artists did a great job of making a believable world. My only complaint is a simple one; the dialogue can get a bit cheesy at times. This is one of the few areas that you can tell Spiders’ budget wasn’t huge. The voice actors, while adequate, sometimes cheese up their lines and over dramatized things. I’ve heard a few complain about the swearing, but honestly, it hasn’t put me off too much. Yes it does happen, but not enough to put you off. All in all, Bound By Flame is a solid game. I’m about three hours into it and I’m really enjoying my time. I hope that it will continue this upward trend as I’m just getting into the real story. The combat is fun, the game is challenging and those coupled with the price tag makes Bound By Flame a title that recommend someone looking for a fun RPG pick up....

Retrospective Review: The Witcher 2 Enhanced Edition (360)

Retrospective Review: The Witcher 2 Enhanced Edition (360)

With most peoples attention on the new generation of systems, it’s easy to forgot some of decent games available on the 360 and PS3. The Witcher 2 Enhanced Edition remains as one of the most overlooked titles on the 360. A fantastic port of the PC classic, The Witcher 2 is still worth picking up today, even more so with the Witcher 3′s delay into early 2014. But just how good is the 360 version of The Witcher 2?   The dark and brutal tale of The Witcher 2 had PC gamers stunned and in awe of what they had just experienced. The Witcher 2 was the definitive story driven role playing game of last year, now its time for The Witcher 2 to launch its assault on consoles. Does this fantasy tale of revenge mange to carry over to the home consoles, or is the quality lost in translation? The Witcher 2 sets the tone for its story telling nature from the off. Opening up with series protagonist Geralt being questioned over the murder of King of Temeria, King Foltest. From here Geralt begins his vigilante search for the true King Slayer. The land of Temeria is in chaos with various factions tying to take advantage of the death of the King. Geralt’s search is met with plenty of twists and turns with each outcome affecting the story line. The Witcher 2 is jam packed with decisions for the player to make, no matter how big or small every decision has a impact on the storyline. These decisions don’t just result in a extra bit of gold or loot, or even a new skill, they do in fact shape the overall story telling experience. This allows the storyline to twist and turn to the extent the player is left pondering their own actions.     It’s rare for video games to implement player decisions in such an effective manner. It never feels like you’re simply in a game world following a storyline, instead it feels like this game world bows to your choices and actions. It’s a true sense of role playing that is rarely achieved in video games. Examples of big decisions come early on in the shape of Geralt’s encounter with a traitor by the name of Aryan La Valette. Geralt can either strike him down in a duel or talk him into surrender. Talking Valette into surrendering effects the early stages of the game and adds a whole new cut scene in the process, as well as affecting Geralt’s reputation with the world’s factions. The range of consequences your decisions have can be felt within the first chapter of the game. There’s a number of different outcomes very early on with two totally differing climaxes, both of which feel as well worked as the other. The decisions can even propel your adventures to different towns during the second chapter of the game. While both towns share familiar maps and primary objectives , the NPCs (and thus conversations and personalities) and secondary quests are unique to their respective towns. This adds a genuine sense of choosing your own path within the world as well as giving the world a true feeling of being alive.   Interaction between Geralt and the supporting cast (as well as the NPC’s) never comes off as feeling trivial. Conversations flow naturally and engage the player regardless of the subject. This is both a testament to the high quality script and the voice acting. The over use of British (cockney for the most part) may boil the blood of some but they do serve purpose. Accents differ depending on location, much like real life, and how privileged the NPC/character is. It’s a nice touch that a lot of modern role playing games tend to forget about, and it adds a realistic layer to the world.   One issue that carries over from the PC original is the the over-abundance of ‘hidden lore’. While the game has plenty of back story for the player to look into, it’s easy to become a little confused as to some of the game’s lore. An example of this is that there is no obvious reason for everyone’s hatred of Nilfgaard. Characters and NPC’s will often curse the name of Nilfgaard but rarely do they give a clear reason why. Reasons can be found if the player takes time out to search through the mountains of lore to look up Nilfgaard. It’s not a huge issue but does catch players off guard. It’s a subjective issues if this is a case of too much of a good thing. The Witcher 2′s combat system has slightly been improved upon during its transition from PC to console. The core combat involves switching from sword type and spell type depending on the enemy and situation. Geralt is armed with one steel sword (used to slay humanoids) and one silver sword (used to slay creatures) along with several spells. The spells range from setting enemies alight to buffing Geralts defense temporarily and useful stun attacks. The controls are easy enough to adapt to with the X controlling your attacks (holding X results in a heavy strike, tapping X in a light, quick attack) and the triggers acting as your defensive skills and ‘focus’ move. Focusing on a target allows Geralt to counter enemy attacks (once the skill is unlocked) by a well timed button push while in defensive stance. Geralt can evade enemy strikes via simple push of the B button however spamming the move is a bad idea.     The stamina meter plays a large part in the games combat. Spamming the doge button is a huge drain on the stamina bar, this has a effect on Geralt’s ability to cause damage and parry enemy attacks. Other methods of combat can be found in the shape of taps, throwing daggers and bombs. These items offer a number of tactical routes in combat such as stunning enemies, and in some cases turning enemies against each other. On any difficulty setting, bar easy, players will find themselves struggling against early enemies Geralt encounters. This highlights the importance of drinking potions Geralt can create. Potions are created by combing various herbs found throughout the game. Combing potions is a key element to The Witcher 2′s gameplay, as each potion plays its part in establishing Geralt’s combat efficiency. Some potions increase damage done with swords, others increase stamina regain. The potion side of the game allows the player to approach combat in the way they prefer as well as adding a slight touch of strategy to proceedings. The combat has always been some what of a thorn in The Witcher’s side as a franchise but things have improved slightly in its debut on the Xbox 360. Improvements in the combat are partly due to a new upgraded interface specifically designed for the 360. This doesn’t mean its flawless however. Things can become quite messy when forced into a corner by a number of enemies, this creates a tricky situation of trying to attack one target at a time. The camera also comes into a play and can often blind side the player leading to a few cheap hits and in some cases death. At times the ‘invisible’ walls also rear their ugly head adding to issues the combat suffers (although this issue also applies to exploring too). While these issues aren’t game breaking by any means they are never the less frustrating.     The presentation of The Witcher 2 is to a high standard. Environments are well detailed, there’s a obvious attention to detail in each location Geralt finds himself in. The Witcher 2 has a decent range of locations to venture through, from inner city streets to grimey towns by the sea, the game never falls below a high standard of visual quality. The way in which the environments are lit play a key part in their beauty. Lights reflect and bounce in a natural manner, which adds extra detail to the world. Some sections mange to look so fantastic that you cant help but just stand back and take in the sites.   Character models and animation are a key attribute to the success of The Witcher 2′s storytelling. Characters look fantastic due to a number of reasons. The majority of models have at least one unique feature to them, be it a scar or a spot. This adds that sense of humanity that is necessary for a video game character to be believable. The NPC’s rarely look alike, resulting in the world feeling that little bit more natural. The core cast of characters play host to the greatest detail, for obvious reasons. Their eyes glaze and move in such a manner you almost forget they are simply a video game character. Facial animation is smooth and never comes off as synthetic or unnatural. This attention to detail aids conversations between characters, helping them to become engrossing and natural. Audio wise, The Witcher 2 is a treat and the musical scores are a vital part to the drama on offer. From booming music, which evokes a feeling of combat and tension, to soft pieces that bring a sense of calm, The Witcher 2 has it all. Sound effects are crisp on the ear and particular kudos go to the work on the creature sounds which avoid coming across as generic. Voice acting is one of the many highlights of the experience, from the smooth tone of Geralt to the arrogant almost pretentious voices of his enemies , The Witcher 2 never lets up. A strong script requires strong voice acting and thankfully The Witcher 2 is a prime example of this. There are only a few examples (mostly minor quest givers) of what could be considered flat voice acting, beyond that however there is only quality. The main issue the Witcher 2 suffers from, is its the somewhat abrupt ending. The first two chapters are nothing short of epic. There are a number of sections in which the game commands the players attention and appreciation for the work at hand. The first chapter of the game sets up the games atmosphere and themes, easing players for the experience they are about to embark upon. The second chapter ramps up the drama and tension within the story and feels like a run up to an explosive climax. The third chapter however brings a ending that doesn’t match the build up. Side plots feel like they have ended prematurely and feel a little rough handed. Some characters roles in the plot are dumped to ensure a quick route to the ending. It leaves a few question unanswered and detracts from the sense of scale the storytelling has managed to create. It’s not a terrible way to end the game, it is in fact a rather rough way to end it.   The Witcher 2 is a genuinely a fantastic role playing experience. The power the player has in their decisions is unmatched in modern day video games. The core combat has been slightly improved upon with the games transition to the Xbox 360, but its not without a few fiddly controls and camera angle issues. The visuals are top notch as too is the audio, its nothing short of a treat to open your eyes and ears to. Rarely does a game mange to engage a player in such a manner in which they feel like the story bends to their will and not the developers. Multiple endings add replay value, and the game time of around 20-35 hours of core content guarantee you’ll get your moneys worth. The Xbox 360 version of The Witcher 2 is a showcase in how to port a PC game to the consoles successfully. Everything works well, both in a gameplay sense and a technical sense. With a extra four hours of new content added to the 360 version there is even a reason for PC Witcher 2 veterans to experience the story on the consoles. The only true issue the Witcher 2 struggles from is the half baked climax, it simply does not match the rest of the game’s high quality of story telling and writing. Bold, beautiful, brutal, dramatic, glorious, engrossing and epic are just a few words to describe this role playing experience. The Witcher 2 is quite simply the best story driven role playing game on the Xbox 360. Minor faults are drowned out by supreme quality. The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings is a must play experience that will satisfy anyone (RPG fan or not) who can appreciate a well crafted role playing experience with epic story telling.      ...

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